Remember when I said baseball might not figure out a deal and there might be no MLB season? Well, that has become more of a reality after the MLB Players Association rejected MLB's request for a mediator to negotiate between the parties for a new collective bargaining agreement on Friday.
The MLBPA made a statement regarding the matter by stating, "Two months after implementing their lockout, and just two days after committing to Players that a counterproposal would be made, the owners refused to make a counter, and instead requested mediation. After consultation with our Executive Board, and taking into account a variety of factors, we have declined this request."
This move, for the vast majority, destroys any chance for the MLB to start spring training on-time unless somehow the owners lifted the lockout to negotiate with the players for a new agreement while the camps were going on.
The MLB also released a statement Friday saying, "Our goal is to have players on the field and fans in the ballparks for spring training and Opening Day. With camps scheduled to open in less than two weeks, it is time to get immediate assistance from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to help us work through our differences and break the deadlock. It is clear the most productive path forward would be the involvement of an impartial third party to help bridge gaps and facilitate an agreement.”
They continued with, "It is hard to understand why a party that wants to make an agreement would reject mediation from the federal agency specifically tasked with resolving these disputes, including many successes in professional sports. MLB remains committed to offering solutions at the table and reaching a fair agreement for both sides."
New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer, a member of the player union executive subcommittee took to Twitter to speak up for the players and express his frustrations on why mediations aren't needed.
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service is a governmental agency that helps resolve labor disputes. The MLB requested their services to try to have an unbiased, neutral party join to help end the lockout, which is something the MLB used in past lockout years such as in 1981 and 1994 with the player strikes, with the latter ending up not being resolved and canceling a whole season.
With many issues on hand for the MLB from the core economics of the game, disgruntled players because the average salaries have dropped for four straight seasons, and so forth. Throughout its struggles through the years, there has been some progress in some areas such as expanding the playoffs to 12 teams, proposing to allow advertising patches on the uniforms, and removing direct draft-pick compensation to offer a universal-designated hitter.
But, the only way to resolve the league issues are to get back to the table as the MLB stated, “The clearest path to a fair and timely agreement is to get back to the table.”